I put together some basic information on how to paint leather masks. It’s a fairly simple process, and you can add as much or as little detail as you like.
I use acrylic paints. They’re water based and work well on leather. There’s a wide variety of colors to choose from, and you can even blend colors for a perfect custom blend!
Clean up is easy too – just use soap and water.
To get started with acrylic paints, you’ll need a few simple supplies.
– Water dish
– Plastic wrap or wax paper
– Leather Mask
– Paper towel
– Access to a sink
Your water dish can be simple – I use a recycled plastic up, or a small glass ramekin. I typically keep 2 separate dishes. One for clean water, and one for a quick rinse. I avoid using mugs or cups, since I often have drinking water or tea nearby. Paint water doesn’t taste good!
I like to cover my work area with plastic wrap or waxed paper to make clean up easier. Also, when I’m blending colors or thinning my paints with water I like to use the plastic wrap as a palate. You can use a plastic lid for a palate, or buy one from a craft store. I spread out a lot when I work, so a big sheet of plastic wrap over the counter works best for me!
Tap water works great to thin your acrylics for easy blending, or you can use special acrylic mediums. I like flow extender too, since it increases the time you have to work with your paint before it drys. This is helpful for a large area or if you have a custom blended color you want to work with later.
You can also cover your paints with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out!
I prefer golden or white taklon brushes. They have very smooth bristles so you don’t leave brush streaks, and are inexpensive to buy. You can get a pack of 3 brushes in different widths for a few dollars. I like to have a very wide brush for my basecoat, a medium one for touch ups, and a smaller brush for details. I don’t use super fine brushes very often. I used to use a lot more sizes, but I do 90% of my painting with 2 brushes.
Try a few out, and see what works for you!
Leather is a great surface for acrylic paints. It’s porous enough that they absorb into the surface, and it’s a light enough shade for good coverage. I only paint on vegetable tanned leather. Suede will not look good painted, and treated garment or upholstery leathers with a smooth, glossy surface won’t absorb the paint enough for it to stay well.
Do a test spot first if you’re not sure how your leather will take the paint.
It’s normal for the base coat to get absorbed into the leather a bit. I start with one solid color base coat on all my masks, even if it’s going to be multi colored later. This primes the surface and smooths it for painting.
I use the nicer craft acrylics that come in little 2 oz bottles. I use a huge variety of colors, and a little goes a long way. You will be surprised how many masks you can paint with one 2 oz bottle! I buy my basic colors, like black and white, in large bottles since I will use them up faster. By getting a 2 oz bottle, I have a better chance of using it up before it drys out, and then I’m not stuck with a color I don’t like.
Each brand has different colors, and a different texture. I prefer the Ceramcoat paints for most of my work, since they have good coverage and a thick texture.
Try a few of a similar color in different brands to see how they compare!
Thicker art acrylics are really nice too, and look beautiful on masks. They are a bit trickier to work with, and more expensive too.
Keep some paper towel nearby to clean up spills and blot your brushes. I use a lot of water when I work, and having the correct dampness to my brush is critical! If you paint is ‘skipping’ across the surface, try getting a little water on your brush first or mixing some water into your paint. You’ll get the feel for it soon, and learn how damp you like your paints.
I do most of my painting near my sink. It’s a quick turn to wash out brushes or change water. I also keep a tube of heavy duty hand cream nearby – all the soap and water is very drying for my hands!
After you’re done painting, make sure to wash up and clean your brushes. Dried on paint will ruin the bristles, and shorten their lifespan.
As an added step, you can also add a top coat to protect the paint and keep it looking nice. I prefer Liquitex Satin Varnish. It’s a high grade polymer acrylic top coat, and has a touch of shine. It’s non-yellowing and UV resistant too!
Use a separate brush for your topcoat so it doesn’t get tinted, and never use your brush in the bottle. Put some gloss in a tray or dish and work from there.
When you’re painting, keep your strokes smooth and even. The paint will ‘relax’ a bit as it dries, but try to avoid splotches and streaks. It might take a few layers to get even coverage, especially with light colors like white and yellow.
Paint towards the edges to avoid drips and globs of paint. Check the front and back sides as you work, and make sure your edges get painted too!
That’s the basics for painting a leather mask!
Hope you enjoyed reading, and feel free to comment or send me a message with specific questions.